It looks like there might soon be relief for the residents of Knickerbocker Village, most of whom have been without electricity and heat in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In the past couple of days, elected officials and the heads of two non-profit organizations have been working intensively with the city and building management to accelerate the repair timetable. Now it looks like some electrical service could be restored over the weekend, with full restoration to all 12 buildings sometime next week.
Knickerbocker Village’s owner, AREA Property Partners, is replacing electrical components in several equipment rooms. One room has already been repaired, which explains why some apartments now have electricity. Another room, swamped by flood waters, has not sufficiently dried out. An electrical fire that occurred several days ago was apparently the result of damp conditions in this area. There are hopes that some buildings can be brought back online tomorrow. A building manager told residents today that he expected full electrical power by the middle of next week.
Restoring heat to all Of Knickerbocker apartments is a more complicated matter because the complex’s boilers must be replaced. Today the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development offered to have its independent contractor handle this part of the job. There are other parts that need to be replaced, including the oil line (the oil tank shifted during flooding). Tonight AREA Property Partners is weighing whether to accept help from the city.
All three local elected officials – City Council member Margaret Chin, State Senator Daniel Squadron and State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – have urged swifter repairs. Two Bridges Neighborhood Council (which first made us aware of the issue) took an early lead, and has been working behind the scenes to publicize what’s happening at Knickerbocker Village and to advocate for solutions with its contacts in local government. Hamilton Madison House (with offices in the complex) has coordinated efforts to get food, water and medical care to tenants in a development with a large number of elderly residents.
Today City Comptroller John Liu joined in, touring Knickerbocker Village with Victor Papa of Two Bridges, Mark Handleman of Hamilton Madison House, building managers and a sizable entourage. Liu said he had arranged to bring in hot meals over the weekend. As the walk-through proceeded, the comptroller was stopped by many residents who gave him an earful.
Meanwhile, the local elected officials have been working with FEMA to set up tents in a central courtyard where residents can warm up, eat a hot meal and receive medical care. Those facilities were supposed to be activated today, but (as has often been the case during the past week) the lumbering agency has not proven itself to be very nimble. Hopefully the FEMA center will be up-and-running by tomorrow.
Tenants, however, are rapidly running out of patience. They’re planning a meeting in the East Courtyard tomorrow at noon. We have tried on a few occasions in the last couple of days to speak with Knickerbocker Village management about their efforts to restore power and heat. So far, they have not responded (they’re a little busy), but we’ll keep you posted if we hear back.